On Tuesday, April 14th, over 1 million New York City Public School children took the first of the required Common Core standardized tests. As many students prepared to answer the first questions on their ELA standardized test , the debate continued to swirl among parents and school administrators regarding the option to have students “opt out” of the test. While recognizing that the decision by parents to consider opting out is based on various reasons, Charter School parents need to be aware of the potential impact the opt out decision could have on their school.
In a recent article in the New York Times on 4/13/15, Some Parents Oppose Standardized Testing on Principle, but NOT in Practice, it explored the arguments “pro” and “con” from parents and administrator of standardized testing and the opt out option and respect for parents who . However, it did admit that many parents who fundamentally oppose testing will permit their child to take the test.
Why should we support “opt in” option for Charter Schools?
For Charter Schools, school authorizers have weighed very heavily the test scores of students in charter renewals. This year, State Authorizers recommended closing of a few Charter Schools due to low standardized test scores. If parents decide to “opt out” of testing, this could have a significant impact on the school’s overall student performance rate.
Some organized groups in support of parents exercising the “opt out” option are against the Governor’s proposal to make test scores count for over 50% of the teacher’s performance ratings. There is a risk that NYS could lose potential federal funding for public schools if a school has less than 95% participation in testing, funding.
Alternatives for Parents to Support our Schools/Students
Be informed and participate in the dialogue on high stake testing. Parents should have a clear understanding on the “pros” and “cons” of standardized, high stake testing. Find out all the issues and best options for your child and school community. Discuss the concerns and options with your Charter School. Be informed on how your Charter School is supporting teachers and students for the test.
Understand test scores on individual student performance. For many Charter Schools, the test score is just one measure to assess student academic performance, not the only assessment tool. Parents discuss with their schools’ teachers and administrators how the test scores will be used to determine student promotion to the next grade or overall academic competency.
Test Taking Strategies. Many students, as well as parents, are extremely anxious and stressed out about the standardized test. Charter schools and local community groups should be encouraged to support parents by providing workshops and instruction on test taking strategies and tips that help reduce their child’s anxiety.
In essence, it is important that parents continue to advocate and voice concerns about standardized testing, however, alternative supports need to be in place for students and parents as standardized testing are now the norm. Parents also need to be aware that “opting out” may not be in the best interest of their Charter School.
By, Oma Holloway, Family and Community Coordinator